Thursday, June 30, 2011

6/30 E-News

4th of JulyNo one has signed up to indicate interest in attending the fireworks as a group, so there will be no organized outing this year.  Be safe and enjoy the weekend!

Holiday--Church office will be closed on Monday.

$.02/MealJuly 24 will be our next collection date.  Why advertise this now?  To remind you to collect two pennies for every meal you eat!  We’re hoping to hit $200 this month.

Seeking VolunteersHave a few extra minutes each week?  Building & Grounds committee would be exceedingly grateful if you could help out.  They’re seeking someone to do some watering twice a week, sweep once a week, and wash some windows every now and again.  Please speak with Roger if you have the time and ability to do so.

Wednesday, July 13 @ 7—Tornado Benefit at Southern Adventist U.  It’s a magician, and it’s for a good cause.  Click here for more info.

Pray for…
Roger, as he recovers from his surgery (which went very well)


Software that tries to sort out different authors of the Bible

The world as seen by a child (World-Vision related)

Text for this Week

Luke 17:20-37
The Coming of the Kingdom

 Once Jesus was asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God was coming, and he answered, ‘The kingdom of God is not coming with things that can be observed; nor will they say, “Look, here it is!” or “There it is!” For, in fact, the kingdom of God is among you.’

 Then he said to the disciples, ‘The days are coming when you will long to see one of the days of the Son of Man, and you will not see it. They will say to you, “Look there!” or “Look here!” Do not go, do not set off in pursuit. For as the lightning flashes and lights up the sky from one side to the other, so will the Son of Man be in his day. But first he must endure much suffering and be rejected by this generation. Just as it was in the days of Noah, so too it will be in the days of the Son of Man. They were eating and drinking, and marrying and being given in marriage, until the day Noah entered the ark, and the flood came and destroyed all of them.

Likewise, just as it was in the days of Lot: they were eating and drinking, buying and selling, planting and building, but on the day that Lot left Sodom, it rained fire and sulphur from heaven and destroyed all of them —it will be like that on the day that the Son of Man is revealed. On that day, anyone on the housetop who has belongings in the house must not come down to take them away; and likewise anyone in the field must not turn back. Remember Lot’s wife. Those who try to make their life secure will lose it, but those who lose their life will keep it. 
I tell you, on that night there will be two in one bed; one will be taken and the other left. There will be two women grinding meal together; one will be taken and the other left.’ Then they asked him, ‘Where, Lord?’ He said to them, ‘Where the corpse is, there the vultures will gather.’

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30k people are viewing porn on the internet every second

Porn Addiction in America
Via: Online Psychology Degree

Week 26

   If my math is correct, we're nearing the end of week 26.  Which means, in the grand scheme of things, that we don't have a whole lot of weeks left.  Which means, of course, that our office shouldn't look quite so much like an office and perhaps should begin to resemble a nursery.

  It doesn't.

  So we've got some work to do.  If you walked into this room today, two things would happen.  1)  I would be very surprised.  2)  You would have no idea that there is a baby on the way.

  This despite the fact that our baby has a fully formed face and can blink its eyes!  The immune system is strengthening and it's incredible to think that in another three months we will welcome the little guy into the world.  Hopefully by then he'll have a place to sleep!  (Of course, we could give him ours, since we apparently won't be using it)

  Things are moving along, and we're slowly beginning to grasp that life will never be the same again, and we're thrilled about it.  We continue to pray daily for our son, in the hopes that he'll grow strong and healthy, physically and spiritually.  I've spent more time at Babies R Us than any 29 year old man should, and I truly believe that there only need to be three different kinds of car seats in this world:  Cheap, Medium, and Expensive.  (Although expensive doesn't mean $700.  No one needs a $700 car seat.)  It would greatly simplify matters.

  Rachel asked me if I had thought about what kind of diapers we wanted to use.  Such things have not previously crossed my mind.  I have a feeling that soon, I'll know more about diapers than I do about football.  That makes me sad.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Stuff and the Kingdom of God

  So there I was...

  Last night I was attempting to clean up the stuff I have laying around the floor.  I accumulate my camera gear, some triathlon stuff, and various other assorted useful items that don't have a good place to live.  I remembered that I had one of those little plastic organizers on wheels in the garage, and I was in the kitchen cleaning the spiders off it when something occurred to me.

  Many people in the world don't own enough things to fill this thing.

  I'm worried about making sure my stuff is organized.

  All the while worrying that our 3 bedroom house might not be big enough when the baby comes.

  What's wrong with this picture?  I stared at that little plastic organizer for a long time last night, as though I was expecting it to begin to speak and explain how all the stuff itself isn't really bad and that it's only my attitude towards the stuff that makes it bad.  I kept waiting for the light bulb to click and convince me that as long as my stuff didn't own my soul and I was most concerned with my relationship with my Father in heaven that all the stuff was ok.

  That didn't happen either.

  All I did was realize how powerful those words of Jesus are:  Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.’  (Matthew 19:24)

  All this stuff seems to demand so much attention.  This morning I was having trouble getting back to sleep because my mind was so filled with thoughts about things I have to do around the house, like replacing water & air filters, fixing our walkway lights, etc.  It obscures my mind and keeps me from focusing on anything other than the immediate, physical demands of these things.

  And turns me from paying attention to God.  How frustrating it is to see the role stuff plays in my life.

  How hopeful I am that I can determine how best to live simply and focus solely on God and God's kingdom in all that I do.  I pray for the wisdom and strength to turn from this stuff, to eliminate the things that distract, and focus on Christ alone.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

6/23 E-news

Sunday SchoolBassam Issa from the Islamic Association will be with us this coming Sunday (6/26) during the Sunday School hour.  Please come and join us at 9:30 in the McMillan Building for this conversation about Islam.

$.02/MealJuly 24 will be our next collection date.  Why advertise this now?  To remind you to collect two pennies for every meal you eat!  We’re hoping to hit $200 this month.

Session MeetingThis Sunday, following church.

Seeking VolunteersHave a few extra minutes each week?  Building & Grounds committee would be exceedingly grateful if you could help out.  They’re seeking someone to do some watering twice a week, sweep once a week, and wash some windows every now and again.  Please speak with Roger if you have the time and ability to do so.

Pray for…
John L., as he continues to heal.
Eddie Ivey, Troy’s brother

Want to contribute to a great cause with a simple vote?

What does Biblical mean?

Text for this Week

Luke 17:11-19
On the way to Jerusalem Jesus was going through the region between Samaria and Galilee. As he entered a village, ten lepers approached him. Keeping their distance, they called out, saying, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!” When he saw them, he said to them, “Go and show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went, they were made clean. Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice. He prostrated himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him. And he was a Samaritan. Then Jesus asked, “Were not ten made clean? But the other nine, where are they? Was none of them found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?” Then he said to him, “Get up and go on your way; your faith has made you well.”


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Tuesday, June 21, 2011


I agree completely:

Daily Stuff

Chattanooga area blogger visits different churches

Wonders of the Incarnation

The church isn't just for Sundays

The Family and the 21st Century

How to change a life for free.  (And a story that might dampen your eyes)

The Queen

  Rachel and I watched The Queen the other day--it's one of those movies that we had wanted to see for some time, but other movies kept getting in the way.  It had been on once when we were on an airplane, but for some reason neither of us had watched it, but I think that both of us had regretted it ever since.  So we settled in...

  The Queen is the tale of the relationship between Queen Elizabeth II and newly-elected Tony Blair in the days following the very public and very tragic death of Princess Diana.  Tony Blair has his finger on the pulse of Britain, and the royal family has misread the situation completely, and the media jumps on the royal family's seeming cold-heartedness.

  The reality is that the royal family has grown up doing things a certain way, and the public no longer respects/desires them to act like that, so someone has to change, and it's not going to be the public.

  It got me thinking about the church--so often we stick (cling?) to our old ways, despite the fact that the greater public has moved forward, into a new age, often without the church.  The church demands flexibility, and so often the church responds with the same old solutions.  We hear with old ears, and so act in old ways, despite the fact that our hearts may share the same new passion for Christ.

  What does it take to hear in new ways, and to respond with new outreach?  As in The Queen, it often takes an outside force, be it a person or event, to lead us there.  But I believe it is possible to do through reflection and brutal self-honesty.  Where are we failing?  How can we improve?  How do we need to change?  Who is Christ calling us to be today?

  There are certain truths to which we must cling.  But Christ gives us new gifts and sends us forth into a new day--may we meet that with new answers that relate the old truth of Christ in new ways.  May we serve with courage and imagination, and may we listen with humility when someone suggests we try something new.  It just may be the breath of the Spirit blowing!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Job Interview

Here's one website's take on what a job interview for being a father might look like.

As for what I imagine said interview might look like:

Jesus:  Do you believe that you are capable of loving another human being unconditionally, without giving consideration to the fact that said child is about to vomit all over your best dress shirt?

Me:  Capable?  Probably.  I'd say I'm capable.

Jesus:  Do you realize that babies poop in the bathtub?

Me:  They do what?  When?  Can't they hold it?

Jesus:  You don't understand this whole infant/toddler thing, do you?

Me:  I just don't understand why they can't wait.

Jesus:  They're not very big on bodily control.  That's the point of diapers.

Me:  Ok.  I can probably get past that.

Jesus:  Oh, and they won't say an intelligible word for years.  But they'll scream and cry a lot.

Me:  You're not big into sales, are you?

Jesus:  These are things you need to know.  It's the single most important thing you'll do in your life.

Me:  I just don't understand why you have to emphasize the negatives.  What about all the good stuff?

Jesus:  I know how excited you are.  I know how your heart has longed for this for years.  I know that you can hardly wait for this child to be born for the simply fact that you can begin to share your love with him.  I just don't want your already short patience to break when the kid poops all over the backseat of your new car.

Me:  I can't promise anything about that, but I can promise that every ounce of my soul will be poured into this child, that love I don't fully understand will be his simply because of who he is, because you have made him and set him within my care, that I might raise him to know and love you.  I can't promise that there won't be moments where I want to jump up and down and cry out to the heavens for divine inspiration for you to make this child stop crying, but I can pledge that I will do my best to live a Godly life, one that points to you in all things.

Jesus:  That's all I ask--everything.

Me:  I know.  I'm not good at giving you everything.  I hold things back for myself.  But I want to give this kid everything, that he knows that you are everything.  I want him to succeed where I have failed, for him to thrive where I have fallen short, for him to be faithful where I have faltered and sinned against you and against others.

Jesus:  This isn't about you.

Me:  I know.  It's about you and your kingdom.  Forgive me, Jesus, and make me a Father to my son like you are a Father to me, loving and kind, gentle and strong, certain and true.  Make me faithful, Lord, that my son may be faithful, too.

June 16 E-News

Tornado WorkI’m not entirely sure what our options are, but I feel a responsibility to be involved with the ongoing disaster relief.  If you are interested in being involved, let me know, and also when and how you can work.  That way, when opportunities arise, I can know how best to schedule.

Men’s BreakfastThis Saturday, the men will gather for breakfast at 8:00.  We’re going to talk about tornado relief.

June 26Bassam Issa, from the Islamic Association of Chattanooga, will be our guest during the Sunday School hour.  Please plan to be here at 9:30 to hear what he has to say to us!

$.02/MealJuly 24 will be our next collection date.  Why advertise this now?  To remind you to collect two pennies for every meal you eat!  We’re hoping to hit $200 this month.

Pray for…
John L. Wright, who is recovering at home.
Martha Hicks


What will you be doing on September 30?

“A worthy vocation contributes not only to our own financial well-being but to new creation.”

For those of you interested in basketball, here’s a great piece on Lebron.

What the heck is wrong with this world if this is how people react when a hockey team loses?

Text for this Week

Luke 17:1-10

Jesus said to his disciples, “Occasions for stumbling are bound to come, but woe to anyone by whom they come! It would be better for you if a millstone were hung around your neck and you were thrown into the sea than for you to cause one of these little ones to stumble. Be on your guard! If another disciple sins, you must rebuke the offender, and if there is repentance, you must forgive. And if the same person sins against you seven times a day, and turns back to you seven times and says, ‘I repent,’ you must forgive.” 

The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith!” The Lord replied, “If you had faith the size of a mustard seed, you could say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you. 

“Who among you would say to your slave who has just come in from plowing or tending sheep in the field, ‘Come here at once and take your place at the table’? Would you not rather say to him, ‘Prepare supper for me, put on your apron and serve me while I eat and drink; later you may eat and drink’? Do you thank the slave for doing what was commanded? So you also, when you have done all that you were ordered to do, say, ‘We are worthless slaves; we have done only what we ought to have done!’”


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Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Papayas and other things

  It's amazing to think that the baby has sleep cycles.  They say that the baby will sleep between 12-14 hours a day between weeks 22-24, when it's about the size of a papaya.  That's probably more sleep than either Rachel or I will get the entire first week of the baby's life.  Doesn't seem fair, does it?

  In other news, Rachel and I have started to have all sorts of conversations about strollers and car seats and cribs and all sorts of other items that babies apparently cannot function without.  It's amazing the disparity within some of these categories.  The other night I found a $700 car seat online.  I cannot possibly imagine why someone would spend $700 on a car seat when one priced for a fraction of that will do a fine job of protecting the child, but so many companies and stores seem to prey upon new parents' fears of not doing everything we can to protect our child.  Now, I am completely willing to admit that perhaps I don't fully understand the benefits of a $700 car seat, but I am content to live in such a sheltered environment.

  But the amount of information out there is a bit overwhelming.  We're trying to figure out what the best thing for our baby is, but you have to wade through so much information that eventually you simply want to pick the first thing that looks sturdy and go with it.  Chances are, it would probably work fine.  We're trying to discover where the fine line is between quality and overpriced/over-manufactured.  Companies seem to be doing their best to hide that line, in the hopes that we'll believe that the most expensive is the best rather than simply the most expensive.

  We're seeking out advice from parents who have been there recently, who know what you need and, perhaps more importantly, know what you don't need.  I think babies are probably more resilient than marketers portray them to be.  Otherwise, we never would have made it this far.  I'm pretty confident that it's all going to turn out ok--but it sure is exhausting on the way!


  As I was driving today, it was one of those rare occurences where the sky beyond the windshield is light and beautiful, and yet one look in the rearview mirror confirms that storms are chasing you forward, that darkness lingers behind and rains will soon be upon you.  Up ahead, one might think the weather is perfect, yet you're driving a little faster, hoping to make it to your destination before the storms overwhelm.

  Life's often like that, isn't it?  We've got our foot firmly planted on the gas pedal, all the while one eye is on the rearview mirror, and we're just hoping to escape whatever is coming.  We feel as though the storms are chasing us and it's all we can do to stay ahead of the pursuing chaos.

  As a result, how often do we ever slow down, stop, and plan for the future?  How often do we think about who we are growing to be, about the kind of person, the type of disciple, we are becoming?  This type of forward thinking is often the first thing chucked out the window to lighten the load so that we might accelerate faster and outrace the stormclouds.

  I am just as guilty of this type of critical-needs thinking as anyone else, but I am also weary of it.  I'm worn down by simply surviving, by doing enough to get by.  I do it at home, and in the church, just getting by, week to week.  Several weeks ago, a friend introduced me to a book called Sacred Listening.  It's basically the Ignation exercises for protestants, a guide for walking with God, each and every day, with some structure.  It's demanding, in terms of time and attention.  It asks a lot.  I am often guilty of promising more than I can give to structured prayer ideas.  But I want to be formed as a disciple--I long for my faith to grow, rather than just maintain.  My heart wants to be in communion with God.

  This is my effort, my attempt, and while I will certainly fail at times, I hope that I will grow to be a man who prays without ceasing, who loves without condition, who serves without expectation.  I hope to look forward, that I might not simply function, but thrive as a child of God, and grow into the man Christ longs for me to be.

Daily Stuff

Need a list of a few billion people to pray for?

I bet you can't guess one of the hottest tickets in China.

Are you smarter than a fourth grader?

NPR's double-take toons are usually good for a laugh at both sides of the aisle.

Chattanooga's gaining ground, and you can vote every day!

With Fathers' Day coming up:

Tuesday, June 14, 2011


  I will freely admit that I watched almost every game of the NBA Finals, the first time I've done that since the Phoenix Suns lost to the Bulls in 92/92.  I still have memories of Kevin Johnson and Charles Barkley coming oh-so-close, and of John Paxson sinking the dagger 3 in game 6.  The reason I watched all six games this year?

  Partly because they were great games, but more because I was fascinated by watching the Miami Heat falter.  I wanted them to lose.  I wanted them to fail in big and glorious ways on the national stage, to receive payback for their hubris, for the assumption that they would win.  I wanted to watch their arrogance fall.

  And fall it did.  I found myself enjoying Dirk Nowitzki, a player I never rooted for until this year.  I found glory in Jason Kidd sinking threes, a player I gave up on after revelations about his less than perfect marriage came out.

  What did I gain from all this?  Did it make me feel better watching another fail?  I'm not exactly going to be purchasing the Sports Illustrated commemorative package for the Dallas championship.  In two years, I probably won't remember that Dallas won--only that Miami lost.  I lived in Cleveland for three years, but I've never been to a Cavs game, and I don't make a point to follow them on television.  I didn't watch The Decision.

  I suppose, at the heart of it, I like seeing the proud, the arrogant, fall.  I like seeing them humbled.  I will confess that I don't often pray for them, though I should.  I will confess that I don't pray that they learn their lesson and return a stronger individual, like Christ would have me do.  I'm probably too proud to do that, ironically enough.  I simply enjoy their fall.

  In this week's text, Christ is urging the disciples to be humble.  He's calling for us to remember our own sins and live ready to forgive, ready to repair bonds that might be broken.  He's calling for me to remember that I am a sinner, and that though my faults may be different, they are no better or worse than anyone else's.  So often I stand ready to condemn, when I ought to be ready to forgive, to discuss, to love.  I pray for a heart ready to serve, that I might strengthen my relationships with others, so that when they fall, I might be ready to support and love them, that they may grow in faith and character.

  So I should pray for Lebron, and all others that fall, that they might learn and grow.  What a witness that might be.


Daily Stuff

Educating for humility

How ministry often interrupts our plans

Have you voted for Chattanooga as the best town ever?

Want to suggest a promotion for the Chattanooga Lookouts?

We have too long lived with a wall between our public and private lives. 

Friday, June 10, 2011

One of those weeks

It's been a bit of a crazy, busy week. More so than most, anyway. To make up for my lack of interesting things to say, go ride a bicycle:

Thursday, June 9, 2011

June 9 E-News

PotluckJoin us this Sunday following church for a potluck lunch!

UTC FundraiserJune 11 will be UTC’s next pancake breakfast fundraiser!  It’ll be at the O’Charley’s on Gunbarrel—please see me, Beth M, or Lizz for tickets!  ($5)

$.02/MealJuly 24 will be our next collection date.  Why advertise this now?  To remind you to collect two pennies for every meal you eat!  We’re hoping to hit $200 this month.

Pray for…
John L. Wright, who had a stent put in yesterday.  He’s at home.
Martha Hicks


Interested in a class on parenting & discipline?

The new Presbyterian Form of Government passed this week.

Text for this Week

Luke 16:14-31

The Pharisees, who were lovers of money, heard all this, and they ridiculed him. So he said to them, “You are those who justify yourselves in the sight of others; but God knows your hearts; for what is prized by human beings is an abomination in the sight of God. “The law and the prophets were in effect until John came; since then the good news of the kingdom of God is proclaimed, and everyone tries to enter it by force. But it is easier for heaven and earth to pass away, than for one stroke of a letter in the law to be dropped. “Anyone who divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery, and whoever marries a woman divorced from her husband commits adultery.

“There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and who feasted sumptuously every day. And at his gate lay a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores, who longed to satisfy his hunger with what fell from the rich man’s table; even the dogs would come and lick his sores. The poor man died and was carried away by the angels to be with Abraham. The rich man also died and was buried. In Hades, where he was being tormented, he looked up and saw Abraham far away with Lazarus by his side. 
He called out, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue; for I am in agony in these flames.’ 
But Abraham said, ‘Child, remember that during your lifetime you received your good things, and Lazarus in like manner evil things; but now he is comforted here, and you are in agony. Besides all this, between you and us a great chasm has been fixed, so that those who might want to pass from here to you cannot do so, and no one can cross from there to us.’ 
He said, ‘Then, father, I beg you to send him to my father’s house— for I have five brothers—that he may warn them, so that they will not also come into this place of torment.’ 
Abraham replied, ‘They have Moses and the prophets; they should listen to them.’ 
He said, ‘No, father Abraham; but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent.’
He said to him, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the prophets, neither will they be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.’”


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Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Daily Stuff

Anyone can make a difference if they try.

What's up with hell?  A review of Rob Bell's Love Wins.

Actually, that's not in the Bible.

The most interesting woman in the world?

Quote about worry:
When I look back on all these worries I remember the story of the old man who said on his deathbed that he had a lot of trouble in his life, most of which had never happened.  Winston Churchill

Monday, June 6, 2011

Daily Stuff

A: This life is too much trouble, far too strange, to arrive at the end of it and then to be asked what you make of it and have to answer “Scientific humanism.” That won’t do. A poor show. Life is a mystery, love is a delight. Therefore I take it as axiomatic that one should settle for nothing less than the infinite mystery and the infinite delight, i.e., God. In fact I demand it. I refuse to settle for anything less. I don’t see why anyone should settle for less than Jacob, who actually grabbed aholt of God and would not let go until God identified himself and blessed him.  (From:  Walker Percy interviewing himself)

Today is D-Day.  Many years ago, men braver than I stormed a series of beaches in a brutal, daring frontal attack on a well-defended German line.  Many died.  Because of their sacrifice, many more were able to cross the beaches, ascend the hills, and, eventually, defeat Germany.

I've had the privilege to be able to walk on those same beaches, to wander through the cemetery, to wonder at how they did it.  I don't know.  I can't imagine the fear that beat within their hearts as those boats approached the beaches.  I can't imagine the images that remained long after the smoke had cleared.  I don't want to.

I am grateful that so many went.  On this day, I will stop and say a prayer, grateful for the freedom I have, a freedom that has been paid for.  I will pray for peace, that never again will a young man have to stare up at a hill and know that violence awaits.  I hope you stop and remember as well.